Does your nuclear shelter have a bar? Michael Smith on 40 years of mocking America

Scared at airport security? Anxious about ageing? Fearful your fallout shelter doesn’t quite cut it? The artist Michael Smith has been reliving the horrors of modern life since the 70s – as a dance-cum-comedy act

The man closes his office door for what seems like the last time. Around him are a gang of fresh-faced twentysomething co-workers, like a particularly vexatious Gap advert. He stands patiently as they present him with a giant gold watch; seconds later, they are gone. His shoulders sag several inches. He’s yesterday’s guy. The invisible man.

It’s a scene that must have been staged in real-life workplaces the world over. What makes this one different is that this is a piece of conceptual art-cum-dance and I’m watching on a password-protected videofeed courtesy of the Tate gallery. It’s a sneak preview of a piece by the cult American artist Michael Smith that will appear on 10 December. This is performance art, but not as you might have seen it: an amalgam of filmed contemporary dance (the stuff I’m watching) and improv comedy, which will be streamed live online from a lair inside Tate Modern. There’s a perky piano soundtrack. Oh, and the bit after the office scene is a surreal medieval dream sequence, complete with armour, and it’s also a kind of dance. Even the curator, when I call, sounds unsure what Tate is about to unleash. “We have a rough idea,” she hedges.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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